Attested: Ptolemy 2,3,6 Ουεδρα river mouth
Where: River Wear, which reaches the sea at Sunderland, around NZ4158.
Name Origin: A precursor of the word otter, from PIE *wed- ‘water’, whose initial W sound disappeared or mutated in most languages but not in Russian выдра.
Notes: No Roman site has yet been identified at Wearmouth, but three separate names apparently refer to structures built across the river Wear. Certisnassa contains Latin nassa ‘fish trap’; Dictim resembles Dutch dijk ‘dam’; and Old English forms such as Bede's wiri look like precursors of weir, which Ekwall (1928:441-2) thought could not have easily evolved from Ουεδρα. There definitely was a Roman weir of some kind across the river at Hylton Ferry, which Selkirk (1995) interpreted as a sill-dam, to maintain water in the Wear at high-tide level, to aid navigation to the many Roman sites upstream. They included Chester-le-Street (Concangis), Durham (probably Lugunduno), Binchester (Vinovia), and Lanchester (Lincovigla). There is a strong presumption, but no proof, that lead-silver mining in upper Weardale was a big driver of Roman interest in this river as a transport artery.
Last Edited: 13 October 2017